Erica Simone is a Franco-American photographer who has followed her lens to remote locations of the world for NGO clients, and to exclusive runways shows for high fashion clientele. Her work has been featured in well known publications like New York Mag, National Geographic and Le Parisien.

Simone’s latest project, a series of nude self-portraits shot in the busy streets of New York, is now a book. “Nue York: Self-Portraits of a Bare Urban Citizen” was born from initially questioning the importance of fashion in our modern day society.

“Our fashion choices don’t just reflect who we are,” according to Erica, they segregate us into different social classes and make us self absorbed about our appearance and not personable, allowing the pieces of fabric to hide us and project our being without words.” Erica was kind to tell Beautiful Savage about this more evocative project, her travels, and and the start of her career as a photographer.

To connect with Erica visit her website ericasimone.com

For starters, who are you and what you do?

My name is Erica Simone, I am a photographer and artist living in New York City for 12 years now, originally grew up in Paris.


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What compelled you to get into photography and how has it effected your course of life?

I got into photography 10 years ago when I was studying at FIT. I literally picked up a camera and fell in love. Photography has completely effected every aspect of my life. Through it, my eye has adapted to see and take in the world in a much deeper way. It connects me daily with people from all types of cultures, also gifting me with greater and more meaningful interactions with strangers. Photography and my desire to capture beautiful images of people have taken me to exotic places and landscapes around the world, vastly broadening my life experiences and extending my knowledge of the world. The camera has totally made me who I am today.

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What inspired your “Neu York: self-portraits of an urban citizen” project?

My Nue York project was initially inspired by a day spent at Fashion Week philosophizing about clothing in society—a simple analysis that poked at some questions about how fashion and clothing guides a big part of our self-expression. How we dress acts as silent communication with society—offering us a unique way to interact with others by establishing different personalities and styles. Through our clothing and accessories, we are letting people know what kind of person we are, what kind of mood we’re in, what we might be doing at that given moment, who we would like to interact with or not, etc. It’s its own language. So, my question was: what would life be like if we didn’t have clothing? If we didn’t have any way besides our bodies to express ourselves? This pondering brought me to the visual concept for my series, which through some debate became a self-portrait project.

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How has this project changed you?

This project has changed me in several ways. For one, it has literally pushed me to go naked in public over 60 times, which has consequently loosened me up about my body, strengthened my courage and, just overall, made me more of a risk taker. A lot of things don’t seem as scary anymore! Second, the project has been very public, which has done some great things for my career, but also put me in somewhat of a spotlight, which some days can be interesting and on others, a bit weird. I get a lot of strange e-mails, I’m not going to lie. Overall, this project has been really fun and nuts!

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As we can imagine, you definitely have gotten a few stares while doing this, any crazy experiences in particular?

All my experiences naked in the street have been somewhat crazy. I’ve gotten chased by thugs, gotten kicked out of a cab, been close to getting caught by authorities… The coolest experience was probably getting to play ping pong naked with Susan Sarandon.

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If there was one thing you could change about the world, what would it be?

There are so many things I’d love to change about the world, but the biggest would definitely be war. I would like nothing more than to end violence, hatred and war. There is way too much animosity and horror that goes on by default of man’s greed, anger and desires to control others. It sickens me every day to read the newspaper. The world desperately needs a make-over.
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You have visited quite a few places, which one of your traveled places has left the biggest impact and why?
I traveled to Cambodia when I was 25 for 6 weeks to teach children art, photography and English and to take photographs for various NGOs—this was an amazing experience that fueled my desire to do more volunteering and traveling. I found such beauty and compassion within people and myself, which has been one of my biggest driving forces to do the work that I do.

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Interests outside of photography?

So many interests! I am very into esoteric stuff—the ways of the Universe, quantum physics, consciousness, spirituality and psychic phenomena. I study and practice a form of spiritual hypnosis, which is extremely fascinating. Otherwise, I love to draw and make jewelry, cook/eat, dance, bike, read, explore… I’m a big fan of the world and of people in general, so I’m always interested in traveling, learning and having new experiences. I also love to teach; in the fall, I’m starting my own photography workshop for teens at risk in Brooklyn called Shooting Stars.

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A personal mantra you live by?

My mantra is simply to always remain open, connected, loving, giving and free spirited.

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